Facebook starts testing end-to-end encryption for Messenger conversations

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in iPhone
Facebook on Friday announced initial testing of end-to-end encryption in Messenger, which should keep some conversations secure from any possible intrusion, even by Facebook itself.




A limited number of users should now be able to launch "Secret Conversations," Facebook said. The company is relying the Signal protocol developed by Open Whisper Systems, which is also used by Facebook's other messaging service, WhatsApp.

People can set timers for how long messages will remain visible, but Secret Conversations are otherwise more limited than regular messaging. Participants can only view them on one device, for instance, and they don't support any "rich" content such as videos, GIFs, or personal payments.

A wider rollout of the feature is due sometime this summer. In the meantime Facebook will be collecting feedback, and readying tools for reporting "objectionable" material.

Facebook Messenger has been an unusual holdout in the trend towards end-to-end encryption. The company is thought to have worried about accommodating bots, since by definition some data would have to be visible.

Even as an opt-in feature, Secret Conversations are likely to irritate some people in law enforcement, politics, and intelligence, who have complained about systems like Apple's iMessage "going dark" to investigations. Facebook Messenger alone is used by over 900 million people.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 4
    loquiturloquitur Posts: 104member
    I wonder how they will sidestep the (entirely bogus, in many an opinion) claims by SAIC/VirnetX that they have "zero-click" end-to-end encryption patented.  VHC claims that when iMessages are blue-colored (end-to-end protected) they read upon their patents, but green ones (SMS with no encryption) are OK.  
    edited July 2016
  • Reply 2 of 4
    I'm inclined to trust Apple with my privacy, because their business model isn't built upon mining as much data about my life as possible, as well as Apple's battle with the government over privacy rights of their customers. Facebook, on the other hand has done some pretty shady things with people's personal information. What's more, Apple's encryption was built into iOS 9 (or 8?) at the ground level. I'm just speculating here, but I'd guess that encryption would be a layer added on top of Messages, that Facebook could override if law enforcement asked them to. And if Facebook can override or disable the encryption layer on command, or provide a back door, then hackers could exploit that. And that would make Messenger no more secure than it already is.

    I think that's the most speculation I've ever used in a comment... :p
  • Reply 3 of 4
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,878member
    loquitur said:
    I wonder how they will sidestep the (entirely bogus, in many an opinion) claims by SAIC/VirnetX that they have "zero-click" end-to-end encryption patented.  VHC claims that when iMessages are blue-colored (end-to-end protected) they read upon their patents, but green ones (SMS with no encryption) are OK.  
    I never heard that before.  Damn, If true, I must stop sending all my secret, highly classified nuclear code information with green messages!  I always though green meant 'go' or 'good' or stuff like that!   I guess my usual messages to my wife about what she'd like for dinner are ok either way though.
    edited July 2016
  • Reply 4 of 4
    singularitysingularity Posts: 1,329member
    loquitur said:
    I wonder how they will sidestep the (entirely bogus, in many an opinion) claims by SAIC/VirnetX that they have "zero-click" end-to-end encryption patented.  VHC claims that when iMessages are blue-colored (end-to-end protected) they read upon their patents, but green ones (SMS with no encryption) are OK.  
    They don't have zero click end to end encryption patented. They have an implementation of that idea patented. Any trial will determine whether its valid and if Apples way of doing it infringes on their patent.
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